LAKEWOOD RANCH — As a board member of the Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance, entrepreneur Tommy Klauber and a team of business professionals have been working hard to create a unique identity for Lakewood Ranch as a place to do business.
In 2013, however, Klauber has even bigger visions. As the Alliance’s new board president, Klauber is determined to make the Alliance a go-to organization for businesses wanting to open in the area, and also a must-have for businesses already here.
“If you are going to do business, it’s great to do business with people you know,” Klauber said, recalling why the organization has been instrumental for him as a business professional.
Klauber, assuming his fifth of six possible consecutive years on the Alliance’s board of directors, is eager for the challenge of leading the nearly 1,400-member organization into 2013.
Two new endeavors top Klauber’s list of challenges for the year: development of an ambassador program to assist local economic development agencies and the addition of the Young Leaders Alliance, a sub-group of the Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance.
First, the Alliance has been working to develop its own version of an economic development corporation — not one that would compete with Manatee or Sarasota EDCs, but one that would provide a supportive role to those organizations and any businesses seeking to relocate to the area.
“We’ve got the corporate park; we’ve got the growth,” Klauber said. “We want them to be able to meet us. We’ve got an ambassador program we’re launching.”
Klauber said Alliance ambassadors would meet with business professionals visiting the area, show them around the Ranch and share their experiences as business owners there. The Alliance also is developing that portion of its website, so it can have data on Lakewood Ranch, specifically.
“We want to be a resource,” Klauber said. “We understand (Lakewood Ranch developer Schroeder-Manatee Ranch) is a developer, but SMR can’t speak to people. We want to work with SMR, the EDCs, the chambers (of commerce). We need to be telling our story as businesses and a community.”
In 2013, the Alliance also will be working to boost its membership, holding its first membership drive in five years after losing some membership due to the economic downturn.
“We have an ambitious goal of 200 new members,” Klauber said.
Additionally, Jan. 30, the Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance will officially kick off its newest group — the Young Leaders Alliance — with a social event at the Polo Grill and Bar.
“In Lakewood Ranch, there are a lot of young entrepreneurs,” Klauber said. “They have totally different needs than some of the seasoned business owners. It’s part of the Alliance; they have their own board (of directors). It brings fresh eyes, fresh ideas to the Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance.”
YLA board members include Co-Chairmen Jeffrey Zientara and Lindsey Schuster-Reynell, as well as Benjamin Jones (vice chair), Heather Williams (treasurer), Brooke Marks (events chair), Deanna Levengood (public relations chair) and Amanda Vercheski (membership chair). Brian Volner, last year’s Alliance president, will serve as liaison to the new group.
Having Volner on the board of the YLA will help create more continuity of leadership than in previous years, Klauber said. Klauber will serve as the liaison to the YLA in 2014.
Klauber said he’s excited to see what new ideas the YLA and LWRBA board members develop over the coming year, as well as the Alliance’s further growth and maturation.
“We have some strong leaders on the board,” Klauber said. “That’s going to be great to have. We have a calendar full of events. We’ve got a great, great, great year ahead.”
Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected].